It is time for women to make our mark and fight. The online #MeToo movement sparked an online revolution against sexual assaults and harassment. While not much change occurs in the music industry, female artists continuously take on the challenge of encouraging women and debunk harassment.
Artists encompass the bold action to write about controversial topics: sexual assaults, lack of equality, and body positivity. Taylor Swift describes the discrepancy between how men and women are treated by society in her song “The Man.” Another artist, Lizzo, epitomizes loving oneself for who she is—mind, body, and soul— in her songs “Like a Girl,” “Fitness,” and “Juice.” Beyoncé, Kesha, Nicki Minaj, and Lorde also use their platform to showcase their pride in being a woman, introducing new sounds, and utilizing unprecedented styles for women.
With these new sounds, female artists have become more influential in society, acquiring new fans who support the messages these artists convey. Women are more inspired to accept who they are, realize that they deserve more when they encounter less respect and an unequal salary, and understand that their idols experience the same obstacles they do. However, these messages have not just appeared recently; artists have been spreading feminism through their music for decades.
In the past, songs of domestic abuse or body image were rare. Women lacked the support to create songs that stood up against their records or acknowledge an opinion society disagreed with. Yet, women overcame that obstacle. It was not easy for women to be openly feminist, but many took the leap. The 1960s music encompassed a lot of topics silenced by society and normalized feminism. Lesley Gore released “You Don’t Own Me” in 1963 that spoke out against domestic abuse. Female artists like Billie Holiday, Connie Francis, and Aretha Franklin also came out with music that differed from the rest. Women also started to establish their record labels and producing their own music, forever changing the female presence in the music industry.
Yet, women are still in the minority…
As artists, producers, and writers, women are still a smaller demographic. Dr. Lacy Smith, Marc Choueiti, and Dr. Katherine Pieper’s study titled, “Inclusion in the recording studio,” states that as of 2018, the ratio of male to female artists is 3.6 to 1. Furthermore, in the music industry, women make up 21.7% of artists, 12.3% are songwriters, and 2.1% are music producers. Nevertheless, men have fewer restraints in creating music than women do. And when it comes to awards, women never make the majority. Across 400 songs at the Grammy’s, the study showed that out of 1,064 recipients of 5 select categories, 89.6% were males, and 10.4% were females.
Women still have a long way to go. Even though Beyoncé or Taylor Swift continue to earn platinum records, they still lack the respect male artists do. A career in the music industry is hard to come by as it is, but women have to work harder to prove their worth. Female artists are often more critiqued on their appearance or dating life than their music. It is clear that the lyrics evolved, but society has yet to listen.
While society patronizes, the popularity of out-spoken female artists has shown that women continue to make their mark on the status-quo. The #MeTOO movement has spread to digital music, and female artists are not scared to voice their opinions. Women no longer stray away from sharing a message because of the backlash they might receive. Because of this, young girls can become more aware of the fight of feminists for equality. Females of all ages look up to their idols, and each year, the music industry progressively encourages the power to teach our future female leaders.